Jackson, Mr. College Football, likes idea of pay-per-view tryout

It was the annual "State of the Game" address and since we're talking college football here, who better to deliver it than Keith Jackson? ABC's longtime announcer freely admits he wasn't at the first intercollegiate game pitting Princeton and Rutgers (circa 1869), but that was only because his buggy threw a wheel a couple of exits away on the New Jersey Turnpike.

A new kid on the block as Jackson starts his 28th year at the mike at the Miami-Iowa game in prime time tomorrow (8 p.m.) is the ABC-CFA experiment with pay-per-view. Tomorrow afternoon's games subject to PPV are: Notre Dame vs. Northwestern, LSU vs. Texas A&M; and Southern Cal vs. San Diego State. Each will be sent over the air to the region of top


interest with cable subscribers able to order up another game or games for less than $10.

"It's a good idea in that you still get your free game," says Jackson. "At the same time, it's supplemental and you can buy any game you want. You have to wonder how the networks can continue to spend so much on rights fees. Is pay-per-view the answer? No one knows where it's headed, but let's find out."


* While the yield per team only equals the price of a solid veteran winger ($700,000), the NHL's making it back on ESPN goes farther than the simple infusion of money. The ruinous four-year deal with Sports Channel America put hockey in a near vacuum as far as the casual fan was concerned while a rider with the new five-year contract is there's some network (ABC) coverage included.

* The hour upon hour of U.S. Open coverage on USA Network has been generally good with a couple of annoyances easily correctible. There's simply too much vacuous, gushy talk and those man-in-the-stands features by Michael Barkann are the zenith of emptiness. Annually, Mike visits with frequent Flushing Meadow visitor David Dinkins, who has to explain why he's watching tennis in the afternoon while he should be mayoring perhaps the most troubled city on the planet.

* It will be nice to have Jim Karvellas back at the mike doing Washington Bullets games on Channel 20, but it doesn't figure to be a snap assignment for the guy who called Bullets games in Baltimore and Washington for many years. WDCA does all road games, which usually means the team is being blown out by the middle of the second period.

At first, regular play-by-play man Mel Proctor didn't like the idea of losing the work, but then he saw how it will free him up to add some network opportunities to his regular call of games on Home Team Sports. Phil Chenier remains as the analyst for both.

* Checking out the final ratings of the NFL exhibition games -- they come in three categories: low, lower and lowest -- it might be a pretty good idea for the gang to simply skip these scrimmages or make them games that count in the standings. The games last Friday and Saturday nights on CBS and NBC didn't even make the top 70 for the week.

* On the surface, adding Michael Nunn to the Julio Cesar Chavez-Macho Camacho pay-per-view and closed-circuit card Sept. 12 would appear to be a plus. But recalling the former IBF middleweight champ's aversion to mixing it up, it could work the other way.

* TNT goes with its NFL cable package first, the Broncos and Raiders moving front and center at 8 p.m. Sunday. The pre-game Stadium Show" has to be better with Bob Neal, Ken Stabler and Kevin Kiley doing the gabbing, but the game call leaves something to be desired with Gary Bender aboard to work with Pat Haden. It's not so much Bender's monotone, but the fact the guy simply has nothing interesting to add.

* No doubt WBAL Radio got itself a good deal latching onto the Washington Redskins broadcasts. While it's true Baltimoreans may not be tuned in with baited breath, the station figures to grab a large chunk of the Washington market since the D.C. carrier, WTEM, amounts to two dixie cups and a length of string.


* It's truly invigorating when some high-priced sportscaster, in this case Steve Physioc of ESPN, shoots his mouth off about an official scoring call during a telecast.

The other night, during an Orioles game in Oakland, Chris Hoiles hit a lazy fly to center field. The center fielder temporarily got lost, then simply gave up on the ball as it came dangerously NTC close to hitting him on the right foot. "They're calling it a hit," yelped Physioc, "and the ball wasn't even touched." But announcers are doing that all the time, suggesting that touching a ball is necessary before an error can be called.

* The folks at CBS, who for years couldn't stand Jimmy Connors and his aberrant behavior, are doing a three-part tribute to Jimbo during their U.S. Open telecast tomorrow (noon-6 p.m.), hoping, of course, he gets by his second-round test against Ivan Lendl today.

Meanmwhile, the word from Television Hill is that Channel 11, which hasn't bothered with the Open highlight shows at 11:30 p.m. all week, is going to pick up the weekend action. Rejoice!

* Unlike too many others, Hitachi just isn't sitting around and complaining about the sorry state of the education of college football players, it is doing something about it. To a member, student manager or trainer of each of the 67 schools in the College Football Association, the company will award a scholarship for the purpose of obtaining teacher certification or a master's degree in education. The "Promise of Tomorrow" program will cost $335,000 per year and a Hitachi spokesman said, "We have a habit of getting into things on a long-term basis."

* Anyone who viewed the James Toney-Mike McCallum bout on HBO last weekend probably agrees with McCallum's complaint about Toney being awarded a majority decision. But a protest filed with the IBF seems a little extreme, especially when the fight was so listless.


* Coaches like John Thompson of Georgetown and Jim Boeheim Syracuse certainly won't mourn the passing of the ACC-Big East Challenge, but the fans will. While these two outspoken critics of the made-for-TV round-robin will go back to padding their early-season schedules with cupcakes named St. Leo's and Oswego State, the paying customers can bemoan the lack of competitive games prior to conference play.

* USA Network ran a poll during its "Tuesday Night Fights" show on which heavyweight will emerge after the Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe and Razor Ruddock-Lennox Lewis bouts, then winner vs. winner showdown. Holyfield won out, 33 percent to Bowe's 30, Ruddock's 29 and Lewis' 8.